Elis  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Elis, or Eleia is an ancient district, that corresponds with the modern Ilia Prefecture. It is in southern Greece on the Peloponnesos peninsula, bounded on the north by Achaea, east by Arcadia, south by Messenia, and west by the Ionian Sea.

The first Olympic festival was organized in Elean land, Olympia, Greece by the authorities of Elis in the 8th century BCE - with tradition dating the first games at 776 BCE. The Hellanodikai, the judges of the Games, were of Elean origin.

The local form of the name was Valis, or Valeia, and its meaning, in all probability, “the lowland” (compare with the word "valley"). In its physical constitution Elis is similar to Achaea and Arcadia; its mountains are mere offshoots of the Arcadian highlands, and its principal rivers are fed by Arcadian springs.

Elis was divided into three districts:

  • Hollow (Coele) or Lowland Elis,
  • Pisatis, or the territory of Pisa, and
  • Triphylia, or the country of the three tribes.

Coele Elis, the largest and most northern of the three, was watered by the river Peneus and its tributary the Ladon. The district was famous during antiquity for its cattle and horses. Pisatis extended south from Coele Elis to the right bank of the river Alpheus, and was divided into eight departments named after as many towns. Triphylia stretches south from the Alpheus to the river Neda.

Nowadays Elis is a small village of 150 citizens, located 14km NE of Amaliada, built over the ruins of the ancient town. It has a museum that contains treasures, discovered in various excavations. It also has one of the most well-preserved Ancient Theaters in Greece. Elis is well known for breeding horses and its "creation" of the Olympic games.

Elis was the only city that built a temple to Hades in one of its precincts. The Eleans were the only one to worship him. The construction was built after Heracles' war against Neleus in Pylos. Only once a year, the doors to the temple of Hades would open, but no one would enter the temple except the priests.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Elis" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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